School Days

Besides being adopted and changing rooms, the kids all started at the private Christian school down the road from us. They love it and I love it. Anne is started getting math help after two days. While she was at the public school for 9 weeks she had no help. The educational expectations are closer to what Hubby and I expect. They don’t have to wear uniforms but there is a dress code and I’ve read many studies regarding what the kids wear versus their seriousness in the classroom. I am glad that they have to dress up. School is their job, and everyone has either a uniform or professional dress code for their office. Hubby and I both like the structure and culture at the school. Everyone is so nice, all the time. They also foster a sense of community and push for community service in all of the classes. Anne’s class is going to a local senior facility to sing their chorus songs and they are also collecting new or used stuffed animals for a nonprofit that sends them to children in Africa. I think it helps with a sense of belonging too. The children are excited to see their classmates and go to school. While I realize that this will not always be the case, they have made it two weeks at their school and I can already tell improvements in their reading and math skills and comprehension.

The other plus is that Madeline is at the same school. I don’t have to fight with her any longer to drop off the big kids, wait an hour, then go to her preschool. She is actually in the afternoon preschool class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. So I drop her off in the morning those days just like I drop off the big kids, she goes to daycare for a few hours in the morning before her class. Then I pick her after her class in time to get the big kids! She loves it and would go every day if I let her. But I still enjoy having her home on Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus she really needs a day in between to relax.

The kids have a short week this week because of Thanksgiving and they are having some major celebrations at school for the Pilgrims who escaped religious persecution and came to America. I guess I never thought about Thanksgiving being a religious holiday but they do it big at the Christian school! When my mom visited last week she loved that they would come home singing kids Christian songs. They are so passionate about it and I like the morals that it helps reinforce.

Enough with Public School

This week is the end of the first quarter. By the beginning of next quarter, I may have pulled all my kids out of public school in favor of our local private Christian school. I made it one quarter before I was disgusted. I am so over our systems in America being broken. The foster care system is broken. The public school system is broken. I am only one person but I will advocate for our children as much as I can. We cannot let down our children!

We’ve had issues in school with Anne’s work and issues with her school and not being heard. We’ve had issues with her struggling at home but her teachers and administrators are not worried. We’ve had concerns that Huck is being bullied. While the young man has so much to ponder and digest, the last thing he needs is to be picked on at school. A place that should be safe from worry or harm. He’s had  some serious behaviors and regression stemming solely from what I believe is other children’s behavior at school. I’ve heard bits and pieces of what he’s willing to share but I don’t like it one bit.

I went with Madeline today to tour the local private school and meet with the administrator there.

It was awesome. They have five core tenants: Christ centered, Parent Partnership, Excellence in Education, Individualized Attention and Community Minded. Not only do I feel that their academic expectations are on par with mine and my husband’s, but I feel a real sense that they try to establish character as we do at home.

Maybe if these kids weren’t shoved on a dozen different families in their short lives they might have better self esteem. Maybe if they weren’t horribly neglected they might not lie or talk back. Maybe if they were around more respectable people in their early lives they might act with respect towards adults.

But since they don’t, I almost feel like they need a schooling in proper manners, behavior and help with principles such as trust and respect. We work on these at home all the time but I feel like in a private school I would have back up from the teachers and staff at the school. I want to shelter them and surround them with wonderful, loving, helpful people in the hopes that they will mimic these behaviors and not the ones they’ve seen most of their lives.

The school is small, about 325 kids. They have art, music, gym, chapel and even Spanish once a week. They have several different programs in place for students that might be behind in one or more subjects. Their students grades 1-5 eat lunch together. They provide bus transportation. 90% of their students go on to college after high school graduation.

I went with Anne in mind, to help her get back on track and figure out some of the fundamental knowledge that she is missing. I left thinking that all of the kids need to attend. They pro-rate the tuition for each child and the fourth is free so even Madeline could go to the same school as her siblings! She would be so excited for that.

Next step is to have the kids visit the school and talk about how they feel about switching schools.

Private School vs. Public School

So, I might be super crazy. But I called a private Christian school in town today and made an appointment for information on enrollment. I am OVER dealing with the public school for Anne. Last week she “forgot” (on purpose) her science study guide on Wednesday night. So we had one night (Thursday) to study about 20 powerpoint slides regarding the weather/climate/clouds/temperature/altitude. It was bananas. She studied for hours and I made her a practice test, which she subsequently failed and then we went over all the questions she missed.

She insisted they only knew from Wednesday about their test. I knew better because of the volume of material. So I dutifully emailed her teacher. Turns out they were supposed to have the test one week earlier but they were given an extra week to study. So she knew at least one week before she told us that she knew. Sigh. We are having some major issues with lying.

Anyways, turns out, she goes into school Friday and they get to use their dang study guide for the test!!! And their teacher told them it was a “secret” because they were the only class that got to use their study guide. So all four classes in the fourth grade took the same test on the same material and Anne, who is not in the special education class, was able to use her study guide. How is this learning?? If the class will fail the material you teach them, so you allow them to use their study guide, what are they learning? Doesn’t the teacher either need to teach them appropriate material that isn’t too hard or come to grips that the children are below grade level and help them with appropriate services? I was furious. Between that and the meeting last week where the guidance counselor, teacher and RTI coach told me that Anne is doing fine despite struggling every night at home with homework AND bringing home failing test scores, I am over this school.

So am I crazy? I feel like intervention is needed at this time. Huge intervention. Like, let this girl learn some addition and subtraction before you try to pile on parenthesis and division. Is our school system as broken as the foster care system?